August 18, 2017 Blessings and Peace on All Nations Psalm 67, Numbers 6:24-26


May God be gracious to us and bless us, and make his face to shine upon us that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us.  May God continue to bless us; let all the ends of the earth revere him. – Psalm 67 (NRSV)

Bad news seems to travel a lot further and wider than good news does. Human beings seem to be drawn to news of humiliation and scandal, betrayal and death much more so than to news of peace, reconciliation and God’s provision.  Some of that hankering for bad news may be self-preservation, as in wanting to steer clear of calamity ourselves. It is good to know where the weather is bad so we don’t travel there, and it is good to know where there are construction or traffic delays so we can plan alternate routes. We want to know where things are going wrong, presumably so we can avoid them.

But certain kinds of bad news- especially when only part of the story is reported, or the story is told from a biased viewpoint- serve only to increase tensions and make relationships with others more difficult. What are our motives for following that kind of reporting?  Does bad news travel faster because bad news sells?  Who profits by fanning the flames of conflict?

We have all heard the expression, “One bad apple ruins the whole barrel.” When we simply listen to the doom and gloom that the media feeds on, we start to paint others with a broad brush. We profile others, and we stereotype. We can be tempted to implement a logical fallacy that states, “If so and so, who was of ______demographic, commits crimes or is otherwise of questionable character, then everyone else of his or her demographic does the same.” In other words, it is neat and tidy and easy to think that people who aren’t like us are somehow evil or inferior, just because some people who are not like us have made tragic choices.  It’s not that simple, and it’s also not true.   Sin and unwise choices are inherent to all of humanity. Sin is no more or less prevalent in any particular ethnicity or nationality or culture.  The difference for Jesus followers is in how God calls us to treat others.

The Good News in Scripture that comes from God- and the Good News is not confined to just the Gospels- is just the opposite of doom and gloom of the media and its obsession with Bad News. In God’s economy one good apple cleans up the rest of the barrel- God’s blessings, poured out over humanity, bring salvation and unity instead of division and rancor.

As Jesus followers we are called to be the good apples, the bringers of blessings. The first verse of Psalm 67 closely echoes Numbers 6:24-26: (the Aaronic blessing)

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

May we be those bringers of blessings and peace.

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